The month of February is all about showing those in your life how much you care for and love them. Significant others might buy flowers for each other, whereas others go out on a special date. Friends and family might have a tradition of giving gifts or just simply spending time together. It’s fairly easy to figure out how to share love with these people in your life; but, how do you show love to survivors of trafficking?
Survivors of human trafficking are called survivors for a reason. These individuals have faced the darkest horrors of humanity—recovering from this trauma can be an uphill battle.
It is extremely common for survivors to develop mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Because of these problems, it can be hard to know what to do to help ease the pain.
You are supported.
Being supportive is one of the biggest things you can do to help someone you know who’s a survivor. Every person accepts support differently. Some people who deal with trauma never want to talk about it, whereas others heal by expressing how they feel.
Trafficking victims are made to feel helpless. Simply letting someone know that you’re there for them and will support them through everything, no matter what they need, can make a world of difference.
Remember, 21 percent of trafficking victims are men. Although men and women experience trauma differently, it’s easy to assume that men don’t need as much support as women do. If you know a male who is a trafficking survivor, don’t just assume that they will get over it on their own. Make sure they know that you are here to support them just as much as anyone else.
You are not different.
Traffickers make their victims feel unwanted and force them into seclusion and loneliness. The life of a trafficking victim is almost unimaginable, with abuse, drugs, and feelings of disconnection from the world.
Once a survivor gets back to their life before trafficking, it can be extremely difficult to adjust, and they might feel like they no longer fit in. A trafficking survivor might feel like just a “victim” or a “survivor,” not like the person they once were.
One way to help a survivor feel more comfortable and “normal” is by not just addressing them as a “survivor,” but also making sure you know that they are a parent, a writer, a student or a soccer player. Whatever they are or do, simply acknowledging that they are more than just a survivor can make them feel like they have their identity back and help them restore their former selves.
You are loved.
Let this loved one know that they are close to you, that you care about them, and that you will be there for them to keep them safe when they are feeling trapped and closed off from the world.
Nothing can truly erase what this person has experienced and what traffickers have done to them, but your words and actions can help them feel valued and loved again.